What Can Lakers Center Jordan Hill Do to Justify His Big Salary in 2014-15?

A quick glance at Jordan Hill’s five-year NBA career shows glimmers of greatness, sudden bursts of brilliance and enough stretches of high-energy athleticism to warrant an opportunity at a full-time gig playing center and power forward for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Or does it?

What really possessed general manager Mitch Kupchak to offer the 27-year-old Hill a two-year contract worth $18 million, a significant jump over his $3.5 million salary from last season?

Granted, Hill is essentially on a one-year deal with the Lakers, who hold a team option for 2015-16. But even that $9 million for 2014-15 looks awfully expensive for a 6’10” former first-round draft pick who has never averaged more than 21 minutes per game for a season.

After the team lost out in its bid to bring back Pau Gasol, lure Carmelo Anthony or sign LeBron James, the Lakers decided to gamble on Hill with the hope that a new coach and some starter’s minutes would help him blossom. That meant outbidding other suitors and almost tripling what he earned in his last couple of seasons in L.A.

As the Lakers pursued Anthony and James in early July, they were also concerned about the possibility of losing Hill. From ESPNLA.com's Dave McMenamin on July 2:

Jordan Hill was also on the minds of plenty of teams, with Boston, Dallas and Houston all inquiring about the big man coming off a season in which he averaged career highs in points (9.7) and rebounds (7.4) per game despite playing only 20.8 minutes a game in Mike D'Antoni's system that didn't necessarily fit his skill set.

After using his Bird rights to re-sign Hill on July 23, Kupchak issued a statement in which he praised Hill and the deal:

Jordan has been a consistent contributor for us over the last three seasons and we are pleased to keep him in the Laker family. Jordan’s frontcourt versatility is a benefit to our roster and ...

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